O'FALLON — The Lockport Porters roller-coaster journey through the boys state bowling tournament ended in triumph Saturday at St. Clair Bowl.
Individual champion Shane Matejcek concluded a remarkable weekend with a series of 742 and three teammates had efforts of 611 or better as the Porters rallied in the final three-game session to capture their first state bowling championship.
In third place and trailing Minooka by 174 pins entering that session, Lockport had team games of 1,092, 1,076 and 1,051 to finish with a final-round total of 3,221, allowing it to zoom past both Minooka and O'Fallon for the championship.
Sitting in 12th place at one point late Friday, Lockport took the lead with its opening game of 1,092 in the final session.
Then with a 27-pin advantage over O'Fallon heading into the final game, the Porters outscored the Panthers 1,051-1,004 for the final 74-pin margin.
Seniors Alex Wilmsen and Brian Hodolitiz added final series of 693 and 647, respectively, for Lockport. Jonny Kamba (611) also helped spark the comeback.
"I'm almost speechless right now,'' Lockport coach Jeff Wyatt said. "Yesterday (Friday) we were in 12th place then had the big fifth game (1,211) to get us going.
"The kids just kept battling and they never gave up. We've got a lot of seniors who have been bowling together for a long time. They just kept picking each other up and as a result we are now the state champions.''
Matejcek led the way for Lockport, which finished with a total of 12,846 pins, while O'Fallon, led by all-staters Billy Goodman and Daman McIntire earned its first state bowling trophy, taking second with 12,772.
The second-place team finish is the fourth in school history for O'Fallon, which has placed second at the Class 3A boys state cross country meet the past two years and also taken second in boys basketball and cheerleading.
Salem rallied late to place third with a 12,538 pins, one more than fourth-place Minooka.
Centralia was sixth with 12,483 pins, while Belleville East rounded out the local contingent, placing ninth with a 12,374 total.
Matejcek averaged 243.7 for his 12 games and finished with a total of 1,924 pins. Salem's Dylan Plahm was second, 105 pins behind with an average of 234.9 Goodman (231.3), (Chicago) Whitney Young's Livion Bolzon (229.7) and (New Lenox) Lincoln-Way-West's Josh Glover (226.0) rounded out the top five individuals.
Matejcek said the team title means more than his individual medal.
"No question in my mind,'' Matejcek said. "I've bowled with a lot of these guys for the past three or four years. We're like brothers. To be able to win a state title together is great.''
O'Fallon, which was never lower than fourth place throughout the tournament, almost reached its goal of becoming the first state team champion in school history.
The Panthers, led by Goodman's third-place finish and a 10th place from McIntire (219.0), were in it until the end.
"We did what we could. A 1,004 in the last game was solid considering all the games that were bowled on these lanes the past two days,'' O'Fallon coach Mike Imes said. "Fourth last year and second this year. We're making progress. I'm a happy camper. We'll take second place.
"Billy (Goodman), Daman McIntire, Jason (Lewis) and Tommy Frost all bowled well. We just fell a few pins short to Lockport.''
Goodman led the way for metro-east bowlers with his third-place effort, but five others placed in the top 12 to earn all-state recognition.
East's Kolton Hess placed sixth overall with an average of 222.8, while Columbia's Cameron Touchette was seventh at 222.7. Hess finished with 2,673 pins, one more than Touchette.
East junior Thomas Peters was eighth overall (221.9), while McIntire was 10th at 219 and Alton senior Cody Netzhammer tied for 11th at 218.6.
Other local bowlers faring well were Mascoutah's Anthony Betcher (16th/217.0), Frost (19th/216.3) and Collinsville's Matthew Flanagan (21st/215.9).
Highland's Spencer Mueller was 32nd with an average of 213.